‘Wake Up Call’ — Dems Score Big Upset In Rural Wisconsin, Triggering GOP Alarm

on December 13, 2016 in West Allis, Wisconsin.
WEST ALLIS, WI - DECEMBER 13: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (L), Paul Ryan (C), speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence listen as President-Elect Donald Trump speaks to sup... WEST ALLIS, WI - DECEMBER 13: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (L), Paul Ryan (C), speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence listen as President-Elect Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a Thank You Tour 2016 rally on December 13, 2016 in West Allis, Wisconsin. Trump and Pence have been holding the rallies in several states recently to thank voters for electing them. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Democrats pulled off a shocking upset to win a rural Wisconsin state Senate seat Tuesday night, triggering alarm bells for Republicans across the state and nation.

Democrat Patty Schachtner defeated a well-known local Republican in a district that President Trump had carried by a whopping 55 percent to 38 percent just over a year ago.

Wisconsin Republicans sounded the alarm about what the results could mean, including that Gov. Scott Walker (R), who faces reelection next fall, suddenly looks considerably more vulnerable than he did one day ago.

This special election is the latest sign that Democrats are poised to have a huge 2018 midterm election — and one of the first concrete examples that they’re well-positioned not just in suburban territory but in rural areas as well. That’s crucial, as many of the U.S. senators they’re defending this year represent heavily blue collar, populist states like Missouri, West Virginia (and Wisconsin), and if they’re going to win back the House they need to pick up at least some GOP-leaning seats in more rural areas.

The district where Democrats triumphed last night covers the western sliver of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, encompassing some Minneapolis exurbs as well as a good swath of rural territory. Trump won it big after Romney carried it by a six-point margin in 2012, and it’s long been one of Republicans’ best-performing parts of the state. No Democrat has held this state senate seat in nearly two decades.

But Schachtner won by a nine-point margin despite the district’s strong GOP lean and her allies being outspent by GOP outside groups by a comfortable margin.

It’s not the first Democratic pickup in rural territory in the last 12 months, and they’ve shown big gains in other more rural, populist areas. But this result is scaring Republicans — and it should.

“The greater takeaway from the Wisconsin SD-10 special election is an alarm klaxon for Republicans at every level of the ballot, even those running in gerrymandered districts and drastically outspending their Democratic challengers,” Daily Kos Political Editor Carolyn Fiddler, an expert in state legislative elections, said in a statement. “The reckoning has arrived, and no one is safe.”

Latest DC

Notable Replies

  1. The RNC has just issued a Tsunami Warning.
    Run for the hills, Repug’s…

  2. There are no Minneapolis exurbs East of St. Paul.

    Maybe it’s time for TPM to hire outside of NYC.

  3. Jesus, they’re gonna have to dust off the old color coded terrorist alert system. Only Orange Alerts (no pun intended) will save them come November.

  4. Apparently we don’t have to sell our souls to round up some rural whites.

  5. Avatar for erik_t erik_t says:

    Help us share the good news that purple/blue-run Minnesota, demographically and economically similar to Wisconsin in many broad and sweeping respects, left the poor 'Sconnies in the dust in the recovery from the Great Recession.

    Your one-party governance, Mr. Walker, only looks competent when you compare it to the likes of the outright disaster in Kansas.

Continue the discussion at forums.talkingpointsmemo.com

84 more replies


Avatar for littlegirlblue Avatar for sysprog Avatar for ncsteve Avatar for clunkertruck Avatar for micaiah Avatar for 1gg Avatar for carlosfiance Avatar for boidster Avatar for ottnott Avatar for darcy Avatar for 538liberal Avatar for sucha Avatar for thunderclapnewman Avatar for tena Avatar for lamitatron1 Avatar for spencersmom Avatar for joriep Avatar for rickjones Avatar for cuwrs Avatar for brian512 Avatar for coimmigrant Avatar for erik_t Avatar for mpwdonnelly Avatar for 19tibekius6

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: